Kayak for rough waters

Which kayak would you recommend for confused seas, speed and rough water. Explorer’s and Romany’s , NordKappLv or QCC . Thanks FishHawk

I have been in the Valley NordcapLV
and I’ll take my QCC-700 any day, (between those two)

jack L

For my money
I don`t think there is a better rough water kayak than the Romany. Certainly not the fastest, but best handling. For a bit more speed look at the Explorer but will give up a bit of handling. BTW speed is of kayak is way overrated. If you can maintain 3.5-4mph you can paddle with anyone. Paddlers stroke has more to do with speed than the boat IMO. You want to go faster work on your forward stroke.

You won’t likely get good information
I myself would agree with jackl. I have paddled the explorer and romany and prefer my qcc700. I don’t like the Nordkapp but have not paddled the lv. But those opinions are purely personal preferences. You could easily disagree. So, ignore all of us. Paddle all of them (or as many as you can) yourself and make up your own mind. Don’t pay any attention to the pep rallies on either side.

What I did
I was also looking for a boat that I would like in rough water. I hired an instructor for an afternoon in the SF Bay on a windy and rough day and demoed kayaks.

We looked for the roughest places we could find, and nothing really stood out until I tried a Cetus. Neither the instructor nor I thought I would like the Cetus, and neither of us was in love with the lines. But the boat blew me away.

Prior to the Cetus, we were both having difficulty. I was worried about whether the instructor, in an Avocet, would be able to help me if I wound up swimming. In the Cetus, it was almost a joke. He was constantly bracing and working while I enjoyed the beautiful sight of the GG Bridge on a bright and windy day. There is something about the width of the boat right behind your butt that is very comforting, and I see that you list yourself as a beginner. A beginner might not be comfy in a Nordkapp in rough weather. The Explorer and Romany have good reps. Don’t know about QCC. But I would include a demo in the Cetus, and go on a rough day. You don’t get a sense of the predictability of the Cetus on a calm day, although it feels fine.

Have you considered a Pintail
If your looking for a second kayak for rough conditions, it’s hard to beat.

for confused seas, speed and rough water
Personally, I usually choose my Aquanaut for such conditions if I’m covering distances. For rock gardening, surfing, and tide races I usually choose my Romany. For thrills moving through confused seas I use my Nordkapp LV.

Others would make different choices.

I do not recommend the Nordkapp LV for novices, let alone beginners.

+1 Aquanaut
I’d bet the Nordkapp would be faster but only in very capable hands. The Aquanaut gets you most of that in a boat that beginner could grow into sooner than later.

Does this boat have to be a good photography platform? I see that in your profile. If you want this boat to be a photography platform, I’d suggest boats that have a tendency to stay well-mannered in rough conditions. That’s not necessarily the same as being stable - the Romany is very forgiving for example but it’ll be tossing all over the place while tending to stay upright.

The Aquanaut is a much better mannered boat that way - the greater volume is probably part of it along with the overall hull design.

I have no idea where the QCC boats fit in this kind of spectrum.

Demo …
Well, first “rough” can be subjective. What do you mean by rough?

On boats, you mention QCC, but not a model. Regardless, I have no comment on any QCC boat: never even seen one, let alone sat in one, never heard of anyone who has one, can can’t recall a single comment about one.

Explorer, Romany, and NordKapp LV are all very capable boats for rough and confused seas. If you going to demo Valley boats, add in the Avocet and Aquanaut to your list. Wilderness Systems’ Tempests are good boats too, as is P&H’s Cetus.

For speed, longer boats like the Explorer, Nordkapp, Aquanaut, Tempest 170, and Cetus will have more glide, ie speed. Shorter boats, like the Romany, Avocet, and Tempest 165 will have less glide, but being smaller can be edge and turn easier.

The Nordkapp LV is a compromise of sorts, in that it is very fast yet handles like a smaller boat. The trade off is less defined stability, meaning it can feel more “tippy” than the others mentioned.

We’re all made a little different, so all of the boats will fit you differently. Each boat will have a feel to it unique to how you fit in it. A kayak is like a pair of shoes: you need to try them on before you buy. They’re all capable boats for general conditions your list … demo to find the one that feels right.


– Last Updated: Oct-12-10 11:59 PM EST –

I have to say that speed and glide are not the same thing. A longer boat will have higher hull speed, which may be desirable. But it also has more friction drag due to more wetted surface area, so will have less glide, i.e. will slow down faster.

A shorter boat in general has less surface area, so less friction drag, therefore will glide farther, although it may not be in a straight line if the tracking is poor.

This is all pretty moot in rough water, granted - glide is not really relevant then. But you will have to paddle distance sometime, so it helps. My 14 foot Cape Falcon SC-1 has fantastic glide, and is quite comfortable in rough water. To the OP, if you have a chance to try a Mariner Coaster or Cape Falcon F-1, you may be pleasantly surprised.

(PS to NEBeginner, I'm not quibbling with your boat suggestions, I think they are quite good, it was just the glide thing)

Correction appreciated
Thanks carldelo … I’m far from knowledgeable on boat attributes, so your explanation is helpful.

I’ve always thought that, in general, longer boats were faster due, in part, to glide. However there are a lot of variables beyond just hull length, and beyond my knowledge base as well. Glide is more a factor of resistance that simply length.

Relative to the OP’s stated requirements, speed being one, and the boat list, one way to refine the list regarding speed would be that the longer boats mentioned have that attribute … or at least potential.

Test paddle as many boats as you can
Since your profile says you’re in Cape Cod take a ride up to Billington Sea kayaks in Plymouth and test paddle a Surge. You don’t mention your size or weight, the Surge has a small cockpit, kevlar, 38 pounds - 17’7", no rudder or skeg but I’ve paddled mine in some really nasty water and never felt the boat was going to let me down.



– Last Updated: Oct-13-10 5:18 PM EST –

The avocet RM is a very nice rough weather kayak. I love the tempest 165 in rough seas and wind. The pintail?..not a beginner boat i guess..its important that the kayak is easy to manouver in strong wind and waves. The tempest is very good in this. Id take an avocet or tempest 165..The Romany is a pretty obvious choice too. I think plastic is an advantage for rough stuff. Landings can be somewhat brutal..

Glide is about tracking straight
My 17 ft plus Explorer has less glide than my sub-16 ft Vela on the lesser swells that we mostly actually paddle in, because the latter is quite bow-tight and the first has a very loose bow. On bigger waves, the Explorer has much more glide because the length seems to help it dig in more.

There are sooo many variables in a hull design - just one of them doesn’t tell the story.

rough water boat
valley aquanaut. for all of the above reasons.

My ‘go to’ boat
I own 4 sea kayaks. Each of them a very good boat. However, if I am to be paddling a broad array of conditions and distances the Aquanaut is my choice. Before I owned my Romany or Nordlow, I used my Aquanaut for everything. It remains my ‘go to’ boat.

Consider the Epic 18X
It was good enough for Freya to circumnavigate Australia and I have had it in 45 mph wind gusts on the Chesapeake Bay. The plumb bow cuts through the waves nicely without slapping down hard, which causes loss of speed.

Contradictions and compromise
Beginner, confused waters, rough waters, fast, photogaphy. Beginner and photography might be the same type of boat, confused and rough waters would be a different type of boat, fast is yet another.

Of the boats you mention, for speed, from fastest to slowest would be the longer QCCs, Nordkapp LV, Explorer, and Romany. For a beginner, that Nordkapp could be a bad mistake. The bigger boats like the Explorer and big QCCs would be the most stable for photography.

I bet I would love owning a Nordkapp LV, but a larger friend of mine could not keep his upright. Something like an Explorer or Aquanaut does everything very well (if you are not small), but would not be as manueverable as a smaller boat like the Romany or that Nordkapp. The best confused water boat I have been in was my old Pintail, which I sold because it was way too slow and did not track well.

Try the boats, buy the one that fits, which one seems like it was built for you, and is the best buy. If you are not satisfied after a couple of years, sell it and buy a different boat. Good boats like your list are easy to resell.

Not yet mentioned …
… is the Current Designs Extreme aka Nomad. This is a large person’s boat (not not an XXL by any means). I know someone who swears by it and paddles it in all kinds of conditions. I’ve had one for a while and it handled nasty windchop (up to about 3 feet, the kind at/over your eyesight) very well.

If you look at drag figures, at a certain web site, this was the boat that was #1 at a certain fairly fast speed.

The QCC 700x will handle confused seas just fine and is probably faster by a smidgen. I’ve only paddled one briefly in something close to rough for me at the time (high wind and nasty wind chop) and the boat felt great. Liked it better than the Extreme I owned at the time.

As of late, I seem to like the Cetus line a lot. It is not nearly as fast as the QCC700 but I think it may be a more reassuring choice and give a very good turn of speed in rough conditions. The catch there is to pick the right size as there are significant differences in handling b/w the three…